Greta Thunberg: ‘You won’t get away with this’
Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg has accused the world’s leaders at the UN of “failing and betraying” future generations.
In an emotional and pointed speech, the 16-year-old Swede told leaders of around 60 countries they had failed to act on climate change.
“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words”, she said at the UN climate summit in New York, just days after millions across the globe took to the streets in the fight against climate change.
“This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean, yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you?” she said.
“You are still not mature enough to tell it like it is. You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal.
“The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us I say we will never forgive you.
“We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line,” she said.
Around 60 world leaders are attending the one-day climate summit at the United Nations in New York, organised by Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres.
Gutteres himself implored urgent action, saying the world is in a “deep climate” hole but that it wasn’t too late to resolve the crisis.
US President and climate change skeptic Donald Trump hadn’t been expected to attend the summit but called in briefly to listen to a speech from newly-elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Thunberg greeted Trump with cold, hard stare as they crossed paths in the corridors of the UN.
Thunberg’s speech draws mixed promises
Isabel Cavelier, senior adviser at the Mission 2020 climate group, told The Guardian that “there’s a big dissonance between every leader saying to Greta ‘we hear you’ and the commitments they are putting on to the table.
“China said absolutely nothing new, India mentioned commitments made in the past, the US, Canada and Australia aren’t here.
“We are seeing governments showing up empty-handed. There’s a feeling that the big emitters are holding things back,” she told the UK newspaper.
Notable by their absence at the climate summit were Saudi Arabia and Brazil.
Brazil’s president Javier Bolsonaro has come under intense scrutiny for allowing vast swathes of the Amazon Rainforest to burn into oblivion.
Regardless, he wasn’t invited to the summit because of Brazil’s failure to devise a firm plan to combat climate change.
However, some leaders did present tangible plans in light of Thunberg’s speech; last week’s global climate strike; and stark new warnings from scientists that climate change is accelerating.
Germany, France and New Zealand come to the table
Gutteres had previously said that he only wanted world leaders to attend his summit if they had a firm action plan on curbing their country’s carbon emissions.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said her country would double its financial commitment to fighting global warming to €4bn.
However, her timeframe to end coalmining by 2038 came as a disappointment to environmentalists, according to The Guardian.
French counterpart Emmanuel Macron highlighted that $500m in additional aid would be allocated by international projects to protect tropical forests.
Meanwhile, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said things have “started to turn around” in her nation.
“Our gross emissions peaked in 2006, over 80% of our electricity already comes from renewable hydro and wind, and we have begun an ambitious agenda.
“We have introduced in parliament the zero carbon bill, the purpose of which is to ensure New Zealand lives within the threshold of 1.5C of global warming necessary to avoid catastrophic weather events for our Pacific neighbours.”
Strike for climate change
The summit in New York comes a matter of days after millions took part in a global strike led by youth activists.
Seas of protesters, made up of children, students and adults, descended on the world’s major cities to take part in major demonstrations aimed at urging more action from world leaders on combatting climate change.
As part of the global protest, the Nobel Peace Prize-nominated Thunberg travelled in New York on a solar-powered yacht which had sailed across the Atlantic Ocean, arriving in time for Monday’s climate summit at the UN.